Resilience is the ability to bounce back easily from a stressful event or change. The reason we want to work on resilience is because if we don’t know how to self-soothe, or get our nervous system to a peaceful place, it creates stress on our bodies. Then mental and physical issues can happen over a period of time.
How do we build resilience in families? Let’s start with changing thoughts. Because according to cognitive behavioral therapy thoughts are connected to emotions and behaviors. If we are thinking in a catastrophic way such as we are all going to die from covid-19 this will produce anxiety and the behavior of never leaving your home. If we are thinking in a more balanced way, we cannot control if we contract covid-19, but we can control building up our immune system and taking precautions like wearing masks when around other people. See the difference, the second way of thinking creates calm and a behavior of moving out throughout the community in a safe way.
Teach your children about feelings through labeling feelings when they occur. Then they will have language around what the various sensations are in the body and less acting out.
Teach them how to release feelings from their body. Such as having an angry corner with different ways they can express their anger appropriately. Put crayons there to scribble on paper, throw a pillow at the floor, or hit the soft couch. These are healthy ways to release the emotion of anger.
Encourage each other to take positive risks. For example, I remember falling off my bike as a kid on a bike trail. I actually hit the trunk and went through the split in the trunk onto the ground. I got back on the bike right away. My father gave no other choice which built my resilience to go on the bike again. Bravery is when you are anxious about something but you do it anyway. Creating more situations where kids can move through their anxiety with your support helps them build resilience.
Making connections helps to build resilience. Teaching your children even when we are in quarantine to facetime or video chat with their friends. Laughing and connecting calms our nervous system. I was reading an article on energy psychology and they discussed even if you don’t feel like laughing with someone still do it. Fake it until you make it because your brain doesn’t know if you are really in a happy state or not, but if you pretend you are, the body will calm down, and you will feel more relaxed.
Create a routine for your family. Children feel safest when there is predictability and structure. Encourage participation for your children in creating the structure. Write it or draw the structure on a piece of paper and hang it up so they can keep checking it daily. You can always reward them for following the structure verbally or tangibly with a hug or a sticker.
Teach self-care techniques. At my house we started energy medicine routines for children to get their energy ready for feeling centered and grounded. Ready to start the day in a peaceful way. After some time of practicing it, the children will start to self regulate at various times during the day with these techniques. Resilience is a journey and depending on your childrens’ needs you can implement various strategies that work for them. If your child seems stuck or overwhelmed and unable to implement any of these strategies, it might be time to consider talking to a Clinical Social Worker, Psychologist or Mental Health worker for a consultation or ongoing services.
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